Hassan II of Morocco

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Hassan II
الْحسْنُ الثاني الْعَلَوِيَّ
Amir al-Mu'minin
King of Morocco
Reign26 February 1961 – 23 July 1999
Predecessor Mohammed V
Successor Mohammed VI
Prime Ministers
Born(1929-07-09)9 July 1929
Rabat, Morocco
Died23 July 1999(1999-07-23) (aged 70)
Rabat, Morocco
Royal Mausoleum,
Rabat, Morocco
SpousePrincess Lalla Fatima
Princess Lalla Latifa
Etchika Choureau (partner, 1958-1961) [1]
Dynasty Alaouite
Father Mohammed V
Mother Lalla Abla bint Tahar
Religion Sunni Islam

Hassan II (Arabic : الْحسْنُ الثاني بْن مُحَمَّدُ بْن يوسف بْن الْحسْنِ بْن الشَّرِيفِ بْن عَلِيُّ الْعَلَوِيِّ, [2] or simply الحسن الثاني al-ḥasan ath-ṯhānī, Maghrebi Arabic: الحسن الثاني) (الحسن الثاني July 1929 – 23 July 1999) was the King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999. A member of the Alaouite dynasty, which has ruled the country since the mid 17th century, he was the eldest son of Mohammed V, Sultan, and then King, of Morocco (1909–1961), and his second wife, Lalla Abla bint Tahar (1909–1992). Hassan was known as one of the most severe and autocratic rulers of Morocco, widely accused of authoritarian practices and civil rights abuses, particularly during the Years of Lead.



Youth and education

Hassan II in a Panhard replica beside his father Sultan Muhammad V in Casablanca in 1930. lslTn mHmd lkhms m` bnh lHsn lthny.jpg
Hassan II in a Panhard replica beside his father Sultan Muhammad V in Casablanca in 1930.
Prince Hassan at 13 years old, fourth from left in the back row, photographed behind Sultan Muhammad V, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Casablanca Conference of 1943. Allies Grand Strategy Conference in N Africa- President Roosevelt Meets Mr Churchill. One of the Most Momentous Conferences of This War Began on January 14, 1943 Near Casablanca, When President Roosevelt and Mr A14044.jpg
Prince Hassan at 13 years old, fourth from left in the back row, photographed behind Sultan Muhammad V, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Casablanca Conference of 1943.
Prince Hassan Ibn Muhammad studying in 1943 l'myr lHsn bn mHmd l`lwy ydrs `m 1943.jpg
Prince Hassan Ibn Muhammad studying in 1943

Hassan II was educated at the Royal Academy in Rabat, where a class created for him was instructed by a faculty including Mehdi Ben Barka. [3] Hassan then earned a law degree from the University of Bordeaux.

He was present as a 12-year-old child during the Casablanca Conference of 1943. [4]

He was exiled to Corsica by French authorities on 20 August 1953, together with his father Sultan Mohammed V. They were transferred to Madagascar in January 1954. Prince Hassan acted as his father's political advisor during the exile. Mohammed V and his family returned from exile on 16 November 1955.

Prince Hassan participated in the February 1956 negotiations for Morocco's independence with his father, who later appointed him Chief of Staff of the newly founded Royal Armed Forces in April 1956. In the unrest of the same year, he led army contingents battling riffian rebels in the mountains of the Rif. [5] Mohammed V changed the title of the Moroccan sovereign from Sultan to King in 1957. Hassan was proclaimed Crown Prince on 9 July 1957, [6] [7] and became King on 26 February 1961, after his father's death.


Hassan's rule was characterized by a poor human rights record labelled as "appalling" and perhaps one of the worst in Africa. [8] King Hassan's conservative rule strengthened the Alaouite dynasty. [9]

Failed negotiations over borders between Hassan II and Algeria's newly elected president Ahmed Ben Bella led to the 1963 Sand War. [10]

In Morocco's first constitution of 1963, Hassan II reaffirmed Morocco's choice of a multi-party political system, the only one in the Maghreb at that time. The constitution gave the King large powers he eventually used to strengthen his rule, which provoked strong political protest from the UNFP and the Istiqlal parties that formed the backbone of the opposition. [11]

In June 1965, Hassan suspended the constitution of 1962, dissolved the Parliament, declared a state of emergency, and ruled directly, although he did not completely abolish the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. [12] When elections were eventually held, they were mostly rigged in favour of loyal parties. This caused severe discontent among the opposition, and protest demonstrations and riots challenged the King's rule. A US report observed that "Hassan appears obsessed with the preservation of his power rather than with its application toward the resolution of Morocco's multiplying domestic problems." [11]

Hassan II imprisoned many members of the National Union of Popular Forces and sentenced some party leaders, including Mehdi Ben Barka, to death. [10] Student protests that took place 21 March 1965 in Casablanca, and devolved into general riots the following day; their violent repression caused many casualties. In the aftermath, on 26 March, Hassan II gave a speech that he concluded with: "There is no greater danger to a country than a so-called intellectual; it would have been better if you had all been illiterate." [13] [14]

In October 1965, Mehdi Ben Barka—the main political opponent of Hassan II—was kidnapped and disappeared in Paris. [10] [3] In Rise and Kill First , Ronen Bergman points to cooperation between the Moroccan authorities and Mossad in locating Ben Barka. [15]

Attempted coups

King Hassan II, on his way to Friday prayers in Marrakesh, 1967. Hassan II, Marrakech, 1966.jpg
King Hassan II, on his way to Friday prayers in Marrakesh, 1967.

In the early 1970s, King Hassan survived two assassination attempts. The first, on 10 July 1971, was a coup d'état attempt allegedly supported by Libya, organized by General Mohamed Medbouh and Colonel M'hamed Ababou and carried out by cadets during a diplomatic function at the King's summer palace in Rabat during his forty-second birthday party. [16] Important guests, including the Belgian Ambassador Marcel Dupret, were placed under house arrest, and the King himself was taken to a small pavilion.

Rabat's main radio station was taken over by the rebels and broadcast propaganda stating that the King had been murdered and a republic founded. The coup ended the same day when royalist troops took over the palace in combat against the rebels. It was subsequently claimed by the Moroccan authorities that the young cadets had been misled by senior officers into thinking that they were acting to protect the king.

On 16 August 1972, during a second attempt, four F-5 military jets from the Royal Moroccan Air Force fired upon the King's Boeing 727 while he was travelling back to Rabat from France, many bullets hit the fuselage but they failed to bring the plane down. [17] Allegedly, the King himself hurried to the cockpit, took control of the radio and shouted: "Stop firing you fools, the Tyrant is dead!" Eight people were killed when the jets strafed the awaiting reception dignitaries. [18] General Mohamed Oufkir, Morocco's defense minister, was the man behind the coup and was officially declared to have committed suicide after the attack. His body, however, was found with several bullet wounds. [19]

Foreign policy

In the Cold War era, Hassan II allied Morocco with the West generally, and with the United States in particular. There were close and continuing ties between Hassan II's government and the CIA, who helped to reorganize Morocco's security forces in 1960. [20]

Hassan II also covertly cooperated with Israel. [21] In Operation Yachin, he allowed over 97,000 Moroccan Jews to be migrated to Israel from 1961 to 1964. [22] In an arrangement financed by the American Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Hassan II was paid a sum of $500,000 plus $100 for each of the first 50,000 Moroccan Jews to be migrated to Israel, and $250 for each Jewish emigrant thereafter. [23] [24] [22]

According to Shlomo Gazit of Israeli intelligence, Hassan II invited Mossad and Shin Bet agents to bug the Casablanca hotel where the Arab League Summit of September 1965 would be held to record the conversations of the Arab leaders. [25] This information was instrumental in Israel's victory in the Six-Day War. According to Ronen Bergman, Mossad then supplied information leading to Mehdi Ben Barka's capture and assassination in October. [26]

Hassan II sent "token contingents to support the Arab side" in both the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. [10]

During Hassan II's reign, Morocco recovered the Spanish-controlled area of Ifni in 1969, and militarily seized two-thirds of Spanish Sahara through the "Green March" in 1975. The latter issue continues to dominate Moroccan foreign policy to this day. Relations with Algeria have deteriorated sharply due to the Western Sahara affair, as well as due to Moroccan claims on Algerian territory (Tindouf and Bechar), which unleashed the brief 1963 Sand War. Relations with Mauritania were tense too, as Morocco only recognized it as a sovereign country in 1969, nearly a decade after Mauritania's independence, because of Moroccan claims on the country (see Great Morocco). In 1985, Hassan II suspended Morocco's membership of the Organization of African Unity and enters into conflict with Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara because of his decision to recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.


Economically, Hassan II adopted a market-based economy, where agriculture, tourism, and phosphates mining industries played a major role. On 3 March 1973, Hassan II announced the policy of Moroccanization, in which state-held assets, agricultural lands, and businesses that were more than 50 percent foreign-owned—and especially French-owned—were transferred to political loyalists and high-ranking military officers. [27] [28] The Moroccanization of the economy affected thousands of businesses and the proportion of industrial businesses in Morocco that were Moroccan-owned immediately increased from 18% to 55%. [27] 2/3 of the wealth of the Moroccanized economy was concentrated in 36 Moroccan families. [27]

Human rights

Morocco's human rights record was extremely poor during the period from the 1960s to the late 1980s, which was labelled as the "years of lead" [29] [30] and saw thousands of dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared. During this time, Morocco was one of the most repressive and undemocratic nations in the world. However, Morocco has been labelled as "partly free" by Freedom House, except in 1992 and 2014 when the country was labelled "Not free" in those years respectively. The country would only become more democratic by the early 1990s amid strong international pressure and condemnation over the nation's human rights record. Due to the strong rebuke from other nations and human rights groups, and also because of the realistic threat of international isolation, Hassan II would then gradually democratize the nation over time. Since then, Morocco's human rights record has improved modestly, and improved significantly following the death of Hassan II.

King Hassan II had extended many parliamentary functions[ citation needed ] by the early 1990s and released hundreds of political prisoners in 1991, and allowed the Alternance, where the opposition assumed power, for the first time in the Arab World.[ citation needed ] He set up a Royal Council for Human Rights to look into allegations of abuse by the State.


Hassan died of pneumonia and other health consequences in his birth town at the age of 70 on 23 July 1999. A national funeral service was held for him in Rabat, with over 40 heads of state in attendance, notably UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, American President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac. He was buried in the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The coffin of Hassan II, carried by King Mohammed VI, his brother Prince Moulay Rachid and his cousin Moulay Hicham, was covered with a green fabric, in which the first prayer of Islam, "There is no god but God", is inscribed in golden writing. [31]

Honours and decorations

Royal styles of
King Hassan II of Morocco
Coat of arms of Morocco.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

National orders:

Foreign orders:


King Hassan II had five children with his wife Lalla Latifa Hammou, a member of the Zayane tribe, whom he married in 1961:

The king had one other wife, Lalla Fatima bint Qaid Ould Hassan Amhourak (cousin of Latifa Hammou), whom he also married in 1961. They had no children.

The father of Hassan II was Mohammed V of Morocco and his mother was Lalla Abla bint Tahar. He had five sisters and one brother:


See also

  1. Etchika Choureau
  2. "Durafakhira" الدرر الفاخرة بمآثر الملوك العلويين بفاس الزاهرة.
  3. 1 2 قضية المهدي بن بركة تعود للواجهة بقوة في المغرب بعد مرور نصف قرن على اختطافه. CNN Arabic (in Arabic). 30 October 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  4. "Lesson of Casablanca Conference Timely After 50 Years: Have Clear Goals".
  5. Vera Rubin. "Cannabis and Culture", (2011), p. 186.
  6. United States Congressional Serial Set, (1958), p. 11.
  7. Richard F. Nyrop. "Area Handbook for Morocco", Volume 550. (1972), p. 164.
  8. "Morocco 'Facebook prince' pardon". BBC. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  9. Kwame Badu Antwi-Boasiako; Okyere B. "Traditional Institutions and Public Administration in Democratic Africa", (2009), p. 130.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Miller, Susan Gilson (2013). A history of modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-139-62469-5. OCLC   855022840.
  11. 1 2 Gleijeses, Piero (1996). "Cuba's First Venture in Africa: Algeria, 1961–1965". Journal of Latin American Studies . 28 (1): 159–195. doi:10.1017/s0022216x00012670. JSTOR   157991.
  12. Miller, Susan Gilson. (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. xvii. ISBN   9781139624695. OCLC   855022840.
  13. Miller (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. p. 169.
  14. Yabiladi.com. 23 مارس 1965..عندما تحولت شوارع الدار البيضاء إلى أنهار من الدماء. www.yabiladi.ma (in Arabic). Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  15. Bergman, Ronen (2018). Rise and kill first: the secret history of Israel's targeted assassinations. Translated by Ronnie Hope. New York: Random House. ISBN   978-1-4000-6971-2. OCLC   1019731689.
  16. Miller (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. p. 175.
  17. Miller (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. p. 177.
  18. "Jets attack Moroccan King's plane", The Guardian , 17 August 1972
  19. Byrne, Jennifer (11 July 2001). "Interview with Malika Oufkir". Foreign Correspondent. ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  20. Brittain, Victoria (2 July 2001). "Ben Barka killed with French help". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  21. staff, T. O. I. "A look at Israel's decades-long covert intelligence ties with Morocco". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  22. 1 2 "Operation Yachin Begins Bringing Jews From Morocco". CIE. 28 November 2020. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  23. هكذا وافقت السلطات المغربية على تهجير اليهود بين 1956 و1964. الأول (in Arabic). 6 June 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  24. Szulc, Tad (1991). The Secret Alliance: The Extraordinary Story of the Rescue of the Jews Since World War II . Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN   978-0-374-24946-5.
  25. Surkes, Sue. "Morocco tipped off Israeli intelligence, 'helped Israel win Six Day War'". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  26. Bergman, Ronen (2018). Rise And Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations. Random House. pp. 86–94. ISBN   978-1-4000-6971-2.
  27. 1 2 3 Miller (2013). A History of Modern Morocco. p. 184.
  28. "Marocanisation : Un système et des échecs". Aujourd'hui le Maroc (in French). Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  29. Hamilton, Richard (13 January 2007). "Laughter, freedom and religion in Morocco". BBC. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  30. George Joffé. "Morocco". Britannica. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  31. Highbeam [ dead link ]
  32. "Accueil: activites_princieres". archive.is. 22 July 2011. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  33. التحدي: الحسن الثاني ملك المغرب (in Arabic). 1983.
  34. دعوة الحق - قراءة في كتاب جلالة الملك الحسن الثاني "التحدي". www.habous.gov.ma. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  35. Hassan; لوران، إيريك (1993). ذاكرة ملك: الحسن الثاني : أجرى الحوارات ٳيريك لوران. S.l.: الشركة السعودية للأبحاث والنشر،. OCLC   30586158.
Hassan II of Morocco
Born: 9 July 1929 Died: 23 July 1999
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Morocco
Succeeded by

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